What I Wish I'd Known About Depression
7 things I wish someone had told me when I was 14
So, this is a topic that I've heard we're all apparently 'sick of hearing about', but I don't think we talk about it enough. Depression comes in a variety of different forms to different people, sometimes based off their own individual life experiences, sometimes due to a genetic chemical imbalance in the brain.
Either way, it's good to open up and talk about it, accept help from those with experience, and those that love and care about you. It's important to have some kind of support network either online or in person. Take the time you need, everyone is different and therefore some will recover sooner than others.
These are 7 things that I personally wish I'd known when I was first diagnosed with depression.
1- Depression will mean different things to you through time. When I was first diagnosed with depression, it meant sadness, self-harm, feeling trapped in my house, in my life, suicidal thoughts. I was given a leaflet on anxiety describing fight or flight, but not much information regarding the symptoms I'd be experiencing with depression. Now to me, my depression means demotivation, inability to be reliable, bad friend, messy room, no energy, nightmares and lots and lots of crying! It means different things for different people as well, so sometimes it can be hard to relate to others and you might be confused that some symptoms are not the same or may be harder/easier for you than them.
2- It’s a trickster and an asshole. When taking prescribed antidepressants, you will suddenly feel absolutely fine and feel like it’s the medication making you worse and you’ll want to stop taking it. Please try not to, please take a friend or a family member to the doctor to get advice instead. Because when you come off, it comes back with a vengeance. Also, there is no one-size-fits-all antidepressant. You may have to try a few types before you find the right fit.
3- Friendships are hard. There are different types of depression in people, so some handle their social lives differently to others, but either way it’s still difficult to maintain strong bonds with people. Personally I isolate myself away from friends a lot, sometimes for weeks on end. However, I know people who rely on constantly going out and non-stop socializing to cope with their depression but they’re also known to be quite flaky and unreliable.
4- You get sick of saying sorry. Your depression eats away at your life, you become forgetful, flaky, demotivated, unreliable and so you’ll be apologizing daily. For the dishes, missing coffee dates, not doing homework, leaving it too long to reply to a text, anything. You’ll get tired of apologizing and in time, every time you mess up you’ll get angrier and more frustrated. You know that it’s the depressions fault, but all other people can see is you.
5- Medication is not a magical cure. When you're a young adult, it can be more difficult to gain access to antidepressants and if you do, you may be under the impression that they act as a cure-all. However this is unfortunately not the case. Someone once described it to me as, "The medication acts as the scaffolding, but you have to put in the work to rebuild and heal so that when you're ready, you can take off the scaffolding and be able to stand strong on your own."
6- The vast symptom spectrum as I call it. Did you know that whilst experiencing a depressive episode you can also hallucinate visually/audibly? I didn't either! There are so many things I'm still learning about depression and how it affects different people in different ways and how it relates to other mental illnesses. Personally, I honestly believed I was schizophrenic for years because whilst in an episode, I'd see/hear things that were not there. It was scary. Depression has become so generalized as being just sad and suicidal (or unfortunately romanticized in our schools and colleges and on social media) but no one talks about the other symptoms such as hallucinations, physical illness, and many more. Seriously, go and see for yourself, it might explain a few things.
7- Resentment. You'll experience lots of this feeling towards pretty much everyone on the planet. The strangers and 'happy families' you see in public, your friends, your family, it doesn't matter who it is, whether you know them personally or not, if they look happy, you will resent them. And you'll hate yourself for it. The question 'Why me?' will haunt you, as will the loneliness, the feeling that you're trapped in a bubble looking out at the rest of the world and wondering how the hell they do it. But do remember that if you can fake a smile in public but still be feeling pretty sh*tty on the inside, so can everyone else.
These things I and many others had to learn the hard way, but luckily I'm still young so there's plenty room for mistakes and educational experiences. Just remember that you're not alone, talk to your friends, your family, a therapist, your doctor, or even your household pet.
If you need outside help, please visit the NHS webpage of Mental Health Support Helplines and for urgent help please call The Samaritans on 116 123
Don't give up, we're all rooting for you.